Yesterday I read a heartfelt article by Stan Collymore about his ongoing battle with depression. Last night I watched a documentary called ‘We Need to Talk About Dad’ about a family coming to terms with the fact that the father had hit the mother over the head with an axe – an apparent spontaneous act, which he can’t explain to this day.
About half an hour ago I heard about the death of Welsh team manager Gary Speed. Apparently he has taken his own life. I’ve never met Gary Speed and I therefore find my own reaction to the news a little strange. I feel absolutely devastated by it. Here is a man who, on the face of it, has everything. Just like Stan Collymore. Just like the father in the documentary. And yet behind closed doors none of us know what goes on. We don’t know what we are capable of. We don’t know what others are capable of. How could someone, no matter what pressures they are under, do what Gary Speed has done? How could he do it to his wife. To his two teenage sons? It’s too early to analyse. It’s too early to even understand. But it’s not too early to think. To mull. To try to come to terms with something that is so shocking it almost defies logic.
I am sure we all send our heartfelt condolences to Gary Speed’s family. We pay tribute to his wonderful record as a professional footballer, and we think of the fans of the clubs he played for, who will be shocked, appalled and devastated by his death at such a young age.
We don’t know exactly what caused Gary to take the ultimate step, but it may well be depression. Some people, to this day, not only think depression is something invented by people of weak minds, I hope they will think again. Think about German goalkeeper Robert Enke. Think about Stan Collymore’s ongoing battles. Read Alastair Campbell’s diaries. We all need to try to understand more about depression.
RIP Gary Speed. You were a hero to many. While the manner of your passing doesn’t befit the career you enjoyed, you leave with our respect, admiration and sympathy.